We are accomplishing some goals readers! In a previous blog post: Seeing Partnerships From Both Sides we set a plan to explore student self selected partnerships. Today was the big day, here are the steps that were implemented:
- Yesterday students explored informational topics and selected three groups they were interested in. Then Jill assigned the groups (guided by their choices/group size/ dynamics).
- Today the class brainstormed qualities of good partnerships (see our anchor chart). This is an important time of the year to revisit partnerships and procedures.
- Later students went into their groups with two guiding questions: What partners are going to work together? What is the subtopic each partnership will explore? This task reinforced the responsibly of a working partnership (see our anchor chart).
- Share out student reflections as to how the day went.
As we aspire to grow our abilities to reflect as teachers; so too, should we aspire to push our students’ thinking around reflection. We set parameters for students to work in (while still providing choice). We controlled the environment through tasks: topic, and teacher discretion for establishing groups. Here is a transcript of student reflections:
- “We liked it because we got to choose our partners and if your friend is in your group you could be partners with your friend without having someone tell you who to be partners with.”
- “It was really special because she knew a lot about the moon. We were teaching each other so much facts. She had a lot of ideas on like how lava could erupt from the moon.”
- “It was a little harsh because we couldn’t find partners but when we found our partners then our ideas then it was really good. When it got hard we had to find ideas and help our partners. Then it would all be good ideas at the end.”
- “When we got to pick our own partners we had to figure out what we liked and the topic we were going to look at. So then we got to write the facts and help people to learn more. When we all said what we were interested in we found that the partner that we wanted was someone who wanted the same topic so then we could find out what we wanted to know in groups. So then we both learned what we want to know.”
- “It was nice how we got to pick out our partners because we got to pick someone that we know that does hard work and we know that they like writing or something. We can have them write. If I’m good at writing and he is good at drawing we can do it.”
Transcribing student conversation is a powerful and rich source of formative data. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. After doing an analysis of this data; we now know this work isn’t easy for everybody, for others there are kinks to workout, it poses some interesting dynamics to consider. However, isn’t this what real life is – we have to make adjustments for one another. Collaboration has to be taught – let’s teach it this way and see what happens.